Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, was featured on Press TV News Analysis discussing US foreign policy toward Syria. The program aired on December 30, 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Another Imperialist War Must be Stopped
Lessons for the Current Situation Involving Syria
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Note: The following talk was delivered on June 30, 2012 at a public forum on the political situation Syria. The forum sponsored by Workers World in Detroit featured Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center.
An imperialist-engineered war is well underway against the Middle Eastern nation of Syria. Over the last 15 months, opposition forces inside the country have been demanding outside intervention from the United States and NATO in order to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The ruling Arab Baath Socialist Party (ABSP) has been in power in Syria since 1963. This is the same party that was in power in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, although the Iraq wing and the Syrian faction have been split since 1966.
Over the last year, the Syrian government under President Assad has been attempting to initiate reforms in the political system. Just recently elections were held and political opposition forces have been brought into a new coalition government.
Nonetheless, this entire process has been ignored by the imperialist states, their allies in the Gulf monarchies and the armed opposition forces popularly known as the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Other political elements have also entered the efforts to overthrow the Assad government including elements of al-Qaeda.
Imperialists Using Similar Playbook Around the World
What is striking are the similarities between the process of isolating Syria and what has occurred in other states throughout the region and in Afghanistan over the last 11 years. In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the U.S. and Britain utilized these attacks to escalate the militarization of capitalist economies in North America and Europe and to intensify repressive measures domestically within various western states.
The passage of the USA Patriot Act and other measures by Congress during the fall of 2001 served as the forerunner for the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan. At the same time efforts were underway to link the 9-11 attacks to the Hussein government in Baghdad.
When the war against Afghanistan began in October 2001 a general hysteria had been created inside the U.S. The government and corporate media made it appear that the general population was under imminent threat of another attack.
Various modes of security alerts were imposed utilizing color codes. Muslims, Arabs, Africans and South Asians were rounded up by the security apparatus under the guise that they posed a threat to the state.
After bombing and toppling the Taliban government in Kabul, utilizing sophisticated weapons, ground troops and the so-called Northern Alliance, the U.S. installed Hamid Karzai as a puppet leader of the Central Asian country. Karzai had been an executive of a U.S.-based energy firm, clearly revealing the real agenda behind the intervention.
During the spring of 2002, a naval build-up began in the Persian Gulf targeting the government in Iraq. By the summer and fall of the year it was quite obvious that there would be another invasion of Iraq, this time on a more massive scale.
Of course the corporate media between September 2001 and March 2003 ignored nearly all efforts aimed at an objective analysis and evaluation of the situation involving both Afghanistan and Iraq. Television and radio program which did not fall in line with the war propaganda were forced of the air.
However, there was a tremendous popular response to the war drive that astonished both the ruling class and people within the U.S. and around the world. Demonstrations were held between the fall of 2001 and the initiation of the Iraq war that attracted millions throughout the U.S., Europe and around the world.
Most people inside the U.S. did not support the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The war against both Afghanistan and Iraq were based on fabrications and were designed to position the U.S. imperialists and their NATO allies to reap enormous profits at the expense of the working class and nationally oppressed domestically and internationally.
Military service and security contracts looted hundreds of billions of dollars out of the national treasury of the U.S. This paralleled the boom in predatory lending and other financial activity by the banking sector which brought the capitalist economies around the world to the brink of disaster during 2007-2008.
The wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq proved to be disastrous even for the ruling class themselves. In Afghanistan and Pakistan resistance grew to the intervention of the Pentagon and NATO leading to the eventual deaths of over 2,000 foreign occupation troops and the wounding and injuring of tens of thousands more.
In Iraq, the resistance was fierce from the beginning. By 2011, when the White House announced a “withdrawal”, over 4,500 U.S. troops had been killed, tens of thousands were wounded. Hundreds of thousands more were inflicted with closed-head injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Tragedy in Haiti
In the meantime there were other wars as well. In Haiti, the U.S. invaded the country in February 2004 and overthrew the government of President Bertrand Aristide. President Aristide was kidnapped and forcibly exiled in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The intervention of the International Action Center was key in bringing about his release and the granting of political asylum by the African National Congress government of President Thabo Mbeki in the Republic of South Africa. Aristide returned to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti two years ago, yet he has not been able to re-enter politics despite the fact that his party is the most populous in the country.
The invasion of Haiti by the U.S., France and Canada worsened the conditions for the masses. Those who sought to flee this horror were returned by the Coast Guard or threatened with deportation by the Bush and later Obama administrations.
Today Haiti is still suffering from the impact of the January 2010 earthquake. The United Nations occupation forces are carrying out atrocities against the population and a cholera epidemic brought there by the MINUSTAH forces has killed hundreds and sickened thousands.
The Proxy War in Somalia
In the Horn of Africa, the U.S. has targeted Somalia for destabilization and occupation. Claiming that the country is a base for “terrorist” activity, since 2006, the White House, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has supported war lords, financed and trained surrogate military forces and provided direct on the ground operatives to target resistance forces.
In recent months the U.S. has launched numerous drone attacks on Somalia killing hundreds of people. These drones have struck alleged al-Shabaab training camps and internally displaced persons (IDP). U.S. interference in Somalia and the Horn of Africa has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and the establishment of a military base for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in neighboring Djibouti at Camp Lemoinnier.
The war has drawn in troops from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sierra Leone. Other military forces from France, Israel and Britain are also involved in the Somalia war.
Yet the people of Somalia are continuing to resist the onslaught by imperialism. Despite years of efforts extending back to 1992, the U.S. has still not been able to subdue the country.
Libya: AFRICOM First Project in Africa
Libya was the most prosperous and stable country in Africa. The government under Col. Muammar Gaddafi had provided assistance to many national liberation movements throughout Africa and around the world.
The oil industry resources were utilized for the national development of the country and a political system of direct democracy served to empower people on the grassroots level. Libya was host to over two million guest workers who were employed in the oil, construction, health care and service industries.
When the U.S. initiated an internal rebellion inside the country in February 2011, they expected the government to collapse within days. However, the Libyan military and civilian forces were able to not only resist the rebels but bring about the near defeat within a matter of four weeks.
When the defeat of the rebels become evident, the imperialist went to the United Nations Security Council to get the passage of Resolutions 1970 and 1973, which imposed an armed embargo on the government and provided for a so-called “No-fly Zone” over Libya. On March 19, 2011, the U.S. and NATO began to bomb Libya and this campaign lasted for seven months.
Some 26,000 air missions, 10,000 bombings, a naval blockade, the freezing of over $160 billion in foreign assets along with the electronic vilification of the government by the corporate press was carried out. The leader of the Libyan Revolution, Muammar Gaddafi, was hunted down by the U.S. and assassinated on October 20.
Today Libya is a classic example of the impact of imperialist war on nations within the developing world. Although much oil is being pumped out of the country, the masses are living in poverty and armed militias roaming the country are the law unto themselves.
People are being disappeared on a daily basis and fighting is continuing at a phenomenal rate. Bombing are occurring every week in various parts of the country particularly in the eastern region known as Cyrenaica around Benghazi.
In the South of the country, factional fighting has led to the deaths of hundreds over the last several months. The fighting has spilled over into Mali resulting in the partition of that country and the assumption of power by the military during March.
Sham elections are scheduled next week in Libya which are being touted by the corporate media as the first of its kind in the history of this North African state. Yet the supporters of the Jamahiriya are excluded from participation and members of the former government are being held in prison under tortuous conditions. Many others have been killed including members of Gaddafi’s family.
Seif al-Islam, the son of Gaddafi and his heir-apparent, is being held by the Zintan militia. A recent scandal has erupted with the detention of four members of a delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC), one of whom is from Australia.
The corporate media and the imperialist governments have been virtually silent around these developments in Libya. AFRICOM, the CIA, the transnational oil firms are swarming the country stealing wealth and setting up conditions for further destabilization of the oil-rich state.
Impact of Imperialist Wars on the Domestic Situation
Since the advent of the Afghan war some 11 years ago, the conditions of workers and the oppressed have worsened to unprecedented levels. The economic crisis facing the world is the most severe since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Over ten million jobs have been lost in the U.S. and many more in Europe and other parts of the world. There is no way out for the imperialists other than additional wars of aggression and occupation and the imposition of austerity.
This will of course not work. The imperialists cannot cut their way out of this crisis of over production and unequal distribution of wealth. The working class is becoming more conscious and is learning tremendous lessons for future battles.
This is why it is so important to have an anti-imperialist and internationalist viewpoint. The conditions in Detroit, Stockton, California, Birmingham, Alabama, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Providence, Rhode Island and other cities are clearly related to the crisis in Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome and Paris.
The two parties of the U.S. ruling class have no solution to the crisis. They are in fact the agents of finance capital which is the source of the problem.
What we need is a party of the working class and the oppressed that will organize and mobilize the masses for the construction of socialism. Socialism provides the only solution to the current crisis and the sooner we dispose of the exploitative system the better of we all will be in the long term.
Consequently, another war in Syria will occur at the expense of the people of that country, the Middle East and the people of the U.S. and the world. We must do whatever we can to stop this calamity and crime against humanity.
No Imperialist War Against Syria!
Solidarity With the People of Syria and the Middle East!
Long Live International Solidarity!
Workers and Oppressed of the World Unite!